This paper intends to inform and avail instructors of pedagogical approaches proven effective in winter sports environments, specifically in the sport of snowboarding, that we suggest may be particularly effective in teaching business law to non-law students in undergraduate business programs. We join other scholars in examining the approach to teaching business law to non-law students in an effort to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to manage the “dynamic and untidy” legal issues that business professionals deal with, while mitigating the difficult and confusing subject matter and pedagogy associated with business law courses. Broadly speaking, teaching requires the acquisition of skills and knowledge; teaching law, the practice of law, and snowboarding are no different.

Undergraduate business law courses are an essential accompaniment to the suite of curricula associated with various majors within business schools, such as management, accounting, economics and supply chain. It is particularly important for business school students to develop and retain skills and knowledge associated with legal studies for several reasons. Students’ exposure to legal studies concepts is typically limited, yet the topics are critical for developing the conceptual skill to understand and work within the broader business environment. A basic understanding of business law can help managers make sound business decisions, and in the wake of corporate scandals over the last twenty years, an awareness of the legal environment of business is ever more urgent. One important way that business law courses develop students’ knowledge and conceptual skills is through the critical thinking required to identify legal issues in cases presented and to apply abstract legal concepts to the management of those legal issues. This is often a difficult challenge for students; mastery requires high-impact learning experiences and significant applied practice. The same can be said of snowboarding knowledge and skills. A snowboard instructor can talk about snowboarding with a new athlete, but the athlete can only learn how to snowboard by the significant applied practice of snowboarding.

Business law instruction is similar to snowboarding instruction in a number of other, more specific ways. In both domains, it is critical that students receive frequent instruction on how to perform relevant skills and feedback on performance to improve at their craft. The learning curve is steep for both business law and snowboarding students – concepts are often not intuitive, they can be overwhelming, and it can be a frustrating and painful process. A common reason that snow sports enthusiasts give for avoiding snowboarding is the steep and often physically painful learning curve that must be endured.

In undergraduate business law courses, students are given background for the cases they study, yet spillover from law school pedagogy often means that business law instructors are hesitant to engage in high-touch practices that lead to internalized learning. Snowboard pedagogy provides several key insights into learning involving a shift from transmitting knowledge to facilitating active learning. We believe these insights have the potential to enhance dramatically student learning of business law concepts.

In this paper, we explore snow-sport pedagogy, snowboarding in particular, to gather specific insights into how to improve business law instruction in business schools. We first present a brief background describing the dominant paradigm in business law education, drawing from select scholarly literature on legal studies education in business, and then introduce sport and snow-sport pedagogy, including connections to legal studies pedagogy. We then turn specifically to snowboarding pedagogy, discussing how the development of the field generated specific pedagogical approaches in response to the nature of snowboarding as a sport. In particular, snowboard instructors have proven to be innovative and encouraged to disrupt pedagogical boundaries. Here, we offer specific core insights from snowboard pedagogy and how they may be applied to business law instruction.